Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Adirondack Mts. of NY
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Been a LOOOONG time now...youngest almost 18...so...
When my daughter was born, my oldest son was 2 1/2.
To prepare him, he is very bright, so we talked about the birthing from time to time. I told him that my face might look like I was in pain, but for him to remember that what I was doing was like picking something up that was VERY heavy! And that the word "labor" meant HARD WORK. I went on to say that having a baby was very hard work. If you keep it simple, they get it.
We practiced our best hard work faces....like me asking him what his face would look like if he was pushing something VERY heavy. He showed me...and I showed him mine...etc. We talked about how it sounds when we are working very hard....and we grunted and moaned and so on.
I gave him a mirror to practice his hard work faces and he had fun with that.
When I was in labor, he watched Sesame Street; an episode with those two alien muppet guys with the lower lips that go side to side...and when I needed reminding about keeping my lower jaw loose, I imitated that and he came in and helped me with that. We laughed.
It was a loooooong labor, during a huge blizzard-y snowstorm. He was remarkably good about it all. It was fairly difficult labor and when my daughter was born, and all was well and calm...my son ran as fast as he could and leaped up onto the bed....onto his new sister...who just curled a bit more tightly, taking it in stride...I was freaked, but took my cue from her. No harm done.
When my youngest son was born, my oldest was about 4 or a bit more, and my daughter was 3. She helped my hubby bring me honey tea or a washcloth and she wiped my forehead and was very sweet. After the birth, this time very short and sweet, and after my best friend and neighbor came by with her preteen daughter (my friend only ever had one child by C-section so had never seen a really newborn baby), my daughter climbed into bed with her baby brother and I, and we slept sweetly. My oldest son just played and slept or read.
I think that it takes real preparation work to make it a good experience...and I also think another really big key is that all important extra person who is there for your child or children. It's essential. My hubby did double duty and that was cool, but it is asking alot of someone who is emotionally trying to be there for you in your labor and also for your kid(s).
The book "Children at Birth" is fabulous and may be where I got the idea for all the prep work I did with my son for my daughter's birth. Use every opportunity to work with making hard work faces and making hard work noises. If you see someone working hard on TV or a video you are all watching, take advantage and talk about it. Make whatever your prep work is, age-appropriate. Too much info will make them turn off. Too little well, could leave them hanging. Have your kids' helper for labor work with them too.
There are also probably childrens' books about childbirth...and maybe even about homebirth and new siblings. Again, make it age-appropriate.
Well that is all I can remember. Remember even if you are anticipating a quick birthing because the first one was, well, every birthing may tend to be similar...or not. My first was about 24 hours start to finish. My second was 40 hours...very hard. And my 3rd was 9 hours total. It can be very diverse!
And just as each labor is unique, each kid is too. So one sibling may enjoy and want to see the birth, and others may just not care. Try to prepare yourself to accept whatever happens with that.
I wish you all the best in your growing families...Joyce in the mts.
CD Labor/Postpartum (MSTM), Doula trainer (BAI), Midwifery Student/Apprentice, CPS Tech